Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's Up With Freecycle?

Freecycle logoOne of my local Freecycle groups has schismed and become a Realcycle group instead. In case you don't know, Freecycle is a network of local groups where people can offer unwanted but usable items free to anyone who wants to collect them - I use it to get free used items, such as books, fabric, and a freezer, and also to give away things I no longer need but which may be useful to other people such as a piano, furniture, and clothes. It's a brilliant idea, and it works really well. I've been using it for a couple of years now. But some people are unhappy with it.

One problem is to do with The Freecycle Network accepting a sponsorship deal with a waste management firm. I've recently watched all of The Sopranos straight through, but I don't think it's that sort of "waste management firm". Even so, some people are unhappy with this sponsorship deal, and view it as "selling out". Other people are unhappy with what they see as nepotism within The Freecycle Network, whilst still others are unhappy with the wRealcycle logoay the Network has demanded that other organisations change their names because they think it might infringe their trademark. There are also accusations of heavy-handed behaviour towards groups and moderators who, it is claimed, don't comply with the proper way of doing things.

I must say I don't really understand it all and I have no idea of what is at the bottom of it. Maybe the boss people at Freecycle are power-hungry nepotistic control freaks who have sold out to corporate sponsorship. It happens. Or maybe some of the people who are complaining are paranoid over-sensitive hippies who destroy the good things they helped to build. I've seen that before, too. Honestly, I don't know what the truth is. If you want to dig a bit deeper yourself, you could start by looking at FreeRRRs blog, Tim Oey's blog, or GreenRibbon.

Still, I believe that diversity is good, and the good news is there are now quite a lot of different ways you can freely recycle your unwanted goods. Realcycle is one of them. I'll tell you about some others soon.


Joanna said...

All of this has passed me by, as I continue to use Freecycle. The only thing I don't like about it is the increasing use of our local group by people from far away, and the increasing number of emails asking for very specific stuff "must be in good condition".

The only thing I've asked for was - on the off chance - dustbin lids (ours have all vanished, and the foxes and badgers get into the bins, even though we have them in a n enclosure) ... and, amazingly, I got them. But that's not quite the same as asking for a spanking new computer/fridge/washing machine

I'll watch your updates on this with interest .. but I'm depressed that commerce seems to be spoiling something which is basically a really good idea


heather t said...

Yep, our local Freecycle group has some nitpicky rules that make me wonder if they came from the head honchos or what. They make no sense. We can't post pet requests or offers, we can't ask to borrow items, we have to put our location on want posts (who cares where I'm coming from if I'm the one picking up?). I dunno. I still think it's a good idea and I use my group liberally, but I hate to see the pettiness.

Anonymous said...

Oakland Freecycle had one of the pickiest moderators ever. Almost every post I sent was bounced back to me because I had broken the rules in some way, rules, it seems, that only existed in the mind of this mad mod. The final straw was when I posted a WANTED ad for used plastic grocery bags to use for an art project. The moderator decided that I shouldn't be doing things with plastic bags and bounced my post. A few weeks later, he (or she, I have no idea the gender of the person) was out of there.

Now, Oakland Freecycle appears to be crazy and completely unmoderated. And all of a sudden, people who say they'll come pick up things are flaking on me like never before. There's got to be a middle ground!

Oh, and as for all this Mafia Nepotism stuff, I know nothing and I heard nothing.


Tim Oey said...

Thanks for the note on your blog! It is hard to discern what is true and what is not. I hope the info on my blog can make things clearer in an independently verifiable way.


Anonymous said...

I dropped out of our Freecycle group as it had become dominated by the "I want new stuff" crowd.

When you offer a good, three-year-old computer (which was top spec when new) and people turn it down as it's not new enough, you do start to wonder. It also happened with a cot, moses basket, baby clothes and other things.

They were all in good to excellent condition, but they were rejected because they were not the current fashion, they were used, they were too old, etc.

Add in the constant requests for cars, large screen TVs, iPods, games consoles, even a holiday home and it got a little too much.

Throw in a lot of bitchiness as well, and I gave up.

I'm still swapping and bartering stuff - I just do it by word of mouth and serendipity. I've just agreed to swap pork, lamb and vegetables for a very large greenhouse with its slabs, fittings and benches. All because of something I overheard.

It's much, much nicer and more fun.

Anonymous said...

i think possibly your freecycle and mine is the same one.. not sure (do you mean the Manchester one?) i know a friend of mine ran a freecycle group somewhere else (I won't mention where) and then, struggling with the rules of freecycle, decided to set up a similar group without some of the rules. the freecycle "bosses" found out about this and took her freecycle group off her, which seemed very mean spirited, as she was the one who'd done all the donkey work to get the whole thing off the ground in her area, without even so much as a "thankyou".

*shakes her head*.


Chile said...

We tried freecycle here. And by "here", I mean the birthplace of the entire freecycle movement. You'd think this would be freecycle heaven. Nope. What we found is that there are people who camp out on it full-time. Anything good is snagged up within seconds - literally. Always. This to me says "dealers" scooping up the offerings. This opinion, strictly mine and not provable, was however reinforced by someone who came to pick something up that I offered for free on craigslist. She spoke of going to a yard sale only to see her freecycled items being sold. She ran into this same woman selling her things when the seller tried to obtain her free car.

I only offer stuff on craigslist or to friends in person. I don't have the time to deal with freecycle and people who abuse it. :(

Yellow said...

A funnny thing happened yesterday because of this thread - me and Mam were chatting about this blog whilst I was round her house, and she agreed about the increase in 'wanted' posts on Freecycle, like someone who asked for a cot!!!I started laughing because I have a cot, dismantled in the garage, taking up space, so I'm off to our local freecycle cot to see if I can track doen this person to offer her the cot.

Anonymous said...

my local freecycle is full of nonsense as well - wanted car must have tax and mot or wanted nintendo wii - honest ! we have a good mod who has set up a fair offer policy so that the person offering will consider everyone before offering the items, I have had some fantastic stuff, one chap gave me a meat slicer and a bread maker and threw in a pop corn maker, this week I have given away a high chair, pram and car seat to a very happy family having a suprise 3rd baby ! Karma - if you get something put something back on !!

Anonymous said...

As a mod, I don't bother moderating realistically extravagant wanteds TVs, cars etc, because if they continually post they'll get noted as a person not to give to.

If you know of someone breaking the rules inform your moderators so they can deal with it. Freecycle only works as well as it's members, because Moderators can't be everywhere, all the time, we're only human.

I've had people accuse me of being too strict with rules. I've had other people accuse me of not enforcing rules, because I do it off list.

Pet posts are local decisions. FREE means no ties. Borrowing brings too many problems. We allow borrowing, but no one does so because there have been too many people no returning borrowed items.

With Freecycle you have to learn to ignore what doesn't interest you, to note people who are rule breakers, repeat no shows, greedy, etc.

Freecycle has plans to have their own listserv with the ability to rate other members, which would be useful in some ways. but on the other hand, not everyone likes the Freecycle way.

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